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Box Office: ‘Halloween’ to Carve Out Huge $65 Million-Plus Debut

The October box office has been light on the tricks and heavy on the treats.

Halloween” should keep powering the domestic market as Universal’s R-rated slasher film eyes a massive opening in the $57 million to $65 million range. The studio is cautiously anticipating a $50 million bow, though some industry analysts think it could rocket past $70 million when it debuts in 3,928 theaters. “Halloween” is also releasing in 21 international territories this weekend.

Even the lower part of that range would easily shatter records for the best launch in the “Halloween” franchise. The 2007 reboot holds that distinction now with $26 million. “Halloween” also looks to notch one of the best starts for an R-rated horror film, joining the company of “It” ($123 million), “Hannibal ($58 million), and “The Nun” ($53 million). Given its $10 million production budget, the scary sequel is on track to be hugely profitable.

Forty years after narrowly escaping Michael Myers’ wrath, Jamie Lee Curtis reprises her role as Laurie Strode, the former babysitter who is now a grandmother. Nick Castle also returns as Myers, the deranged serial killer who readies for a final showdown with Strode on Halloween night. Though there have been 11 films in the “Halloween” franchise (five of which included Curtis), this installment is a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s original 1978 movie. The newest take, produced by Blumhouse and Miramax, has garnered some of the best reviews for a series entry yet. While the last few iterations have been panned, “Halloween” holds a 86% average on Rotten Tomatoes.

Carpenter returned to executive produce and compose the score for “Halloween.” David Gordon Green, the filmmaker behind “Pineapple Express” and “Stronger” with Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany, took on directing duties. He also co-wrote the script with frequent collaborator Danny McBride and Jeff Fradley.

“Halloween” should bring good news for Universal after “First Man,” Damien Chazelle’s space epic with Ryan Gosling, failed to blast off last weekend. The film, which cost $60 million, launched with $16 million. Despite the soft opening, Universal is optimistic that awards season buzz will lead to a long life at the box office.

With no other new wide releases hitting multiplexes, “Halloween” shouldn’t have much direct competition this weekend. After a solid start in limited release, Fox is expanding its teen drama “The Hate U Give” to 2,300 locations. The coming-of-age movie could pick up another $7 million to $9 million during the three-day period. It launched with $500,000 in 26 locations, averaging a strong $13,889 per screen. The movie, starring Amandla Stenberg, has earned $2.5 million.

Otherwise, “Venom” and “A Star Is Born” should continue to see profitable returns as the duo heads into their third frames. Tom Hardy’s “Venom” has topped domestic charts for two weeks in a row, picking up $142 million in North America and $235 million overseas. Sony’s superhero film cost $100 million. Meanwhile, glowing word of mouth has bolstered “A Star Is Born,” Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s hit musical, to $136 million worldwide, including $94 million in North America.

A number of indie films are keeping the specialty box office busy. Fox Searchlight is releasing biographical drama “Can You Ever Forgive Me” in five theaters. Based on Lee Israel’s memoir, Melissa McCarthy portrays Israel, a writer who forges letters from deceased authors and playwrights to revitalize her faltering career. With a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, “Can You Ever Forgive Me” looks to redeem McCarthy’s career after “Happytime Murders” flopped at the box office in August.

A24 has Jonah Hill’s directorial debut, “Mid90s,” the coming-of-age skating drama with Sunny Suljic, Lucas Hedges, and Katherine Waterston. That leaves IFC’s “Wildlife,” which is bowing in four locations. Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal star in the critically acclaimed film, co-written by “The Big Sick’s” Zoe Kazan and Paul Dano, who also directed. It follows a boy who watches his parents’ marriage fall apart after the family moves to Montana and his mother falls in love with another man.

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